Lifemiles social media disaster in the making…

Nothing’s better than a good old fashion social media disaster. While this perhaps isn’t as epic as Amy’s Baking Company (if you don’t know what that is, google it!), it’s getting pretty darn good.

Earlier I wrote about changes that Lifemiles made to their award program. This is the second change they’ve made in two weeks (and third in about six months) with absolutely no advance notice, or even an announcement for that matter. I suggested leaving some comments on the Lifemiles Facebook page expressing disappointment in the way they are aren’t communicating the changes. The reality is that it’s 2013, and we do have the power to change things thanks to social media.

And if you take a look at the Lifemiles Facebook page, they’re absolutely getting their rear handed to them. But the best part is the way they’re responding to everyone — they’re completely denying any changes occured. They’re copying and pasting the following response to everyone:

LifeMiles has not made any recent changes in its program nor has devalued its currency. We’ve sent you a private message so you can tell us what happened in detail, please check your inbox or your other folders

The worst part? They’re saying this after they sent me a private message asking me to outline what I was talking about, which I did, and they read that message over four hours ago. But they’re still in denial mode.

But it gets even better. They seem to be insisting on having the Lifemiles number of each member they message, without giving the reason:

Hi Ben, it’s very important for us to improve our services, please tell us what happened in detail and send us your Number of LifeMiles


When I didn’t respond with my Lifemiles number, they sent me another message:

Ben, thanks for that information, please send us your Number of LifeMiles.

And when I sent them how many Lifemiles I had, they responded with:

Send ud your LifeMiles number, please.

It would probably help if they explained why they wanted our frequent flyer numbers.

So yeah, this is getting kind of fun. Get some popcorn and a beer and head over to their Facebook page to share some feedback. After all, it’s very important to them that they improve their services!

Filed Under: AviancaTaca, Media
  1. I never bought any miles through Lifemiles because I have a strict policy of not speculatively purchasing miles without specific itineraries in plan. I’m a buy and burn kind of guy if I do. (WHich I do on USAirways a lot). Lifemiles especially already had a history of devaluing their award chart without notice; it should come as no surprises that they continue to do so. And, nowhere in the Terms and Conditions are they required to give notice . In fact they specifically say “Any award, including award tickets may be subject to increased or reduced mileage requirements or new restrictions at any time”. Is this going to piss a lot of people off? Yes… but I doubt that all of the “loyal” customers have very very few BIS miles on Avianca. So, will the social media disaster actually result in loss of revenue for Avianca? Probably not…..


  2. Lol… I love all these ppl on Facebook in such outrage… “I was a loyal life miles member…” We’re you? Ha, by joining the program six months ago and buying a few thousand miles.

    I’m sorry, zero sympathy. If your loyalty is simply speculating and buying cheap miles to flip, you are not loyal. 99% of these ppl have never set foot on avianca… Just gamers who made a foolish investment.

    Don’t be sheeple. Don’t blindly buy miles (from a small south american airline) bc ppl tell you it’s a great deal. And if you do, don’t whine when the program changes

  3. As stated above “A foolish investment.” Exactly. I’ve learned the hard way not to hoard miles with no plan. However I do think they will feel the wrath if social media.

  4. You could always make a new account and feed them that membership number just to see where the conversation goes.

  5. Sounds like a program based outside if the US has taken American’s for a ride of a lifetime!

  6. Eh there were similar postings on Hilton and the other Hotel programs with big devaluations earlier in the year, only difference they were just more skilled at hiding the comments. Mind you – my vote goes to Hyatt this coming year…

  7. @Jason yeah I agree. It’s a rough game out there and not for the small time players. With that said, it does hurt when you try to play by the rules and rack up a reasonable balance of miles over a reasonable amount of time and then get massively devalued — even with advance warning. I have about just 100k Hilton and am faced with the realization that I am not going to be getting the same future rewards I could have gotten had I happened to have had an extra 50k lying around a couple weeks ago and been able to cash in then.

  8. Although I do not like the unannounced change, I believe there were too many people abusing LifeMiles and that is who you should really be upset at. There were people who were using Lifemiles to buy award tickets they never had intended on flying and (taking up award space for others) then using the “Cash & Miles” option to get more cheap miles. Then phoning and cancelling the ticket.

    Lucky, I think you should be upset at those individuals who are wrecking the program.

  9. It turns out that Amy didn’t make the desserts after all. She bought those too. You must read her tweets about it.

  10. Social media disaster? Please they could care less what some FT members or bloggers think !!!
    They don’t need customers in Europe, Singapore or Australia who buy miles to fly business/first class cheaply. They run an airline, a very profitable airline and a window of opportunity opened for a while. Didnt last long after bloggers started writing about it day and night. Just like BA miles, Hilton, VR you name it. You are were caught of guard in your own game.

    You have said it many many times, dont buy miles you are not planning to use. This is a game, you win some you lose some. Move on!

  11. OK, Lucky, I did my bit, hope it helps…I like the idea of re-maing them “Li(f)eMiles”

  12. Ironically, it’s not about the game. Obviously we win and lose. That’s why it’s called a game. I think what Ben’s beef is, is that they are refusing to acknowledge the changes they have made and are now working on trying to get his LM number out to either flag or close his account. I dare say that this may be worse than Skymiles. 😉

  13. To play devils advocate, they are raising the purchase price of miles. US carriers do that ALL the time without notice. Few ppl complain. Yes, this is cash and points rate, but it’s the same thing – the purchase price of miles

  14. MJ on Travel says it beautifully, “I do not recommend buying miles as a matter of practice. However, if you are near an award threshold, have a specific trip in mind, and have identified available award inventory, it can make sense. If you can pick up some bonus miles in the process, so much the better. YMMV”

    ( I’m the other Jason btw )

  15. That ABC place is just a mile or so from my place in AZ. I almost went there a few yrs ago but had heard negative things about the place and owners.

  16. Lucky,
    How long will it take for them to add the facebook name and their own database together to remove anyone who complains?
    Remember this is from a dictatorship prone region with no rules.
    How long can it take for them to type up your own name even if you are under a different name on facebbok or twitter.

  17. Their facebook page is in Spanish mostly.
    So unless you comment in Spanish, they don’t seem to care what you say in English.

  18. Lucky probably used his lifemiles to buy his Lufthansa ticket. Nice one!

    @ffi So why did you and the other MORONS buy miles from them? You thought you could fool them ha? Who is the stupid one here? YOU!!!!

  19. @ Jason (and other) — Not sure what the confusion is over here. I have absolutely no qualms with Lifemiles raising their redemption rates. I totally agree buying miles speculatively is risky. My major issue (as I think I’ve clearly highlighted in both posts on this subject) is that they made the change without even making an announcement.

    The actual changes are almost irrelevant to me.

  20. @Lucky THAT IS MY POINT ( sorry for screaming).

    The program looked like a good deal but had lots of ifs. And people got comfy and got burned. Let me ask you, did you feel any better that Hilton gave you some warning of that disaster? Of course not, the devaluation was more like a massacre and I am sure you were left with tons of devalued points.

    So if tomorrow , Ethiopian or Namibian airways launches a new mileage plan or whatever, that looked as attractive or even more attractive than lifemiles….would I buy into it? HELL NO !!!!!

  21. @ jason — Of course I felt better that Hilton gave me advance notice of the disaster. I had several weeks to burn points and was able to plan some good redemptions.

    But I’m not even asking Lifemiles gives us advance notice (though that would be nice). Instead I’m just asking they at least announce when a change happens, so we don’t have to find out just by doing random searches. Is that unreasonable?

  22. In fairness, the changes are fairly minor. Nowhere near what Hilton have done this year. For sure they did not make any anouncements….but they never have given us advance notice of program changes. Its the risk you assume in buying miles.
    All the complaining on social media will probably cause them to clamp down and be more limited in their social media presence. This would be a pity as it is a lot easier to get problems such as missing miles fixed thru the social media team than by going through the more formal channels.

  23. “Dear members

    In the last several days, we have made certain changes to our redemption tables. The vast majority of these changes only affect routes offered through our Star Alliance partners from or to Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Oceania. No change was made to redemption tables for flights within the Americas. The changes made are based on market conditions, and increase required mileages by up to 5,000 LifeMiles in Economy Class, up to 10,000 LifeMiles in Business Class, and up to 25,000 LifeMiles in First Class. Based on our historical data, these changes affect less than 1% of LifeMiles’ ticket redemptions.

    In addition to the changes described above, for the first time in more than two years, we have made a minor increase in the price of miles purchased through our Flexible Payment tool. This adjustment will not affect the majority of redemptions in LifeMiles. The cost of miles purchased through Flexible Payment is transparent in the redemption process, and the tool makes it easy to purchase only the amount of miles the customer considers convenient, up to a maximum of 60% of the miles required for the redemption.

    We appreciate and will consider the feedback received from members commenting in Facebook, and we value your preference.”

  24. Well as Ben says, it would have been nice to know in advance. I bought 40k miles, but the last two changes do not affect me.

    I read on FT that some people were buying miles, then using cash + points the same way they use the Priority Club trick and then canceling tickets to get miles even cheaper. That is plain wrong. Some member of FT are just abusing the system may I say screwing it for everybody else. (read they charge up to 160K month using VR just for points and they dont care if they are shutdown by Citi or Amex). No wonder that companies feel the need to make changes without notice.

    I still believe that this is a risky but cheap way to buy *A miles (LM). Advance notice would have been the right thing to do.

  25. @Jason

    not sure why you think Social Media is irrelevant yet you are taking your time to respond here on another Social Media.

    If LifeMiles don’t think Social Media is important why do you think they spend the time and money to maintain a Social Media presence. Of course they hope for the upside but I think they will now have recognised this is a double edged sword.

    In my opinion of course Social Media has an impact, probably nowhere near as much as some think but I’m pretty sure management meetings on Monday will have this incident on the agenda.

  26. Devaluation by South American countries AND airlines. Nice. I fell for this, but it’s not even close to my worst speculative investment. These things probably held up better than Argentinian currency in the past 15 years

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